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Hot on the trail

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April 30th, 2009

Amblers and Scramblers 'take a hike'

By Kathleen Szczepanik POMPTON PLAINS, NJ When Bill Sperry says he s taking his group of hikers to a pyramid, he isn t kidding around. Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area is just a hop, skip, and jump from Cedar Crest, the Erickson community that these hikers call home. Spanning Kinnelon Borough and Boonton and Montville Townships, it provides more than 1,300 acres of rugged trails, fields, forests, rock outcroppings, and wetlands for this lively group of adventurers.

"I feel like a kid again. If there s anyone out there who enjoys the outdoors, please join us; we d love to have you." John Nixon, Cedar Crest resident

"This is one of about 40 hikes that we ll take this year from early March through the end of December," Sperry says. "The terrain ranges from a level dirt path to gradual hills to rocks and hills, and the average hike is about three miles in length." History of the Amblers and Scramblers Sperry, an avid hiker, became the leader of the Amblers, a nearly 40-member group, about four and half years ago. He added the "Scramblers" option for those hikers who wanted to move at a quicker pace. The former DuPont engineer, who has traveled to 60 different countries and 7 continents, designed chemical plants in Delaware. He leaves no stone unturned when he plans a new hike. "I walk the walk and make sure the trail is safe for all of our hikers, regardless of their walking speed," Sperry says. "Most trails have two to three off-shoots, and through the years we have determined which locations have become our favorites for one reason or another. The quality of one s hiking experience is directly dependent on the quality and character of the surrounding environment." At Pyramid Mountain, after a 300-foot climb along the "blue trail," there is an unobstructed view of the New York City skyline. The wilderness area (like several on the list) is a significant wildlife sanctuary with more than 100 species of birds and 30 species of mammals that have been sighted in the area. "Bill isn t foolish, but he is adventurous," says Dolores Miller, Sperry s assistant. "I m a former [real estate agent] from this area, and I ve never been to many of these parks; I just passed them by." Eye on Mother Nature Hiking is a safe outdoor activity that anyone can enjoy as long as your ambitions don t take you beyond the boundaries of common-sense safety. It s important to eat a good breakfast; dress in comfortable clothing with socks, shoes, jackets, and hats depending on the weather conditions; and to stay hydrated. Hiking sticks or "portable railings" as Sperry calls them, are also helpful on many, if not most, trails. Sperry says that although the great outdoors can be a very soothing and relaxing place, Mother Nature has a way of becoming unpredictable, even with the most up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. "We have been caught in a lightning storm, and there was a bear on one of our hikes, but it all turned out okay," Sperry says. "That s why we carry cell phones, a GPS, and can reach park rangers by telephone at all times." "Bill is very protective of us," Miller says. "He always comes prepared no matter what." Hikes are usually cancelled if there is a prediction for heavy rain in the forecast. Trails: reason to celebrate Hiking trails not only give you the opportunity to get your heart pumping, lungs expanding, and muscles working at various levels of difficulty, they also improve your physical and mental well-being. "My wife Jeanne and I have always been walkers," says David Shinn, who also lives at Cedar Crest. "We got involved [with the Amblers and Scramblers] last year, and we love it because it s fun to go to different places every week. It s a fascinating group of people." Christa Tromblay, also of Cedar Crest, is an international hiker from Germany who has been on many trails in her native country, as well as Austria. "God paints glorious pictures, and when we hike, we get to enjoy them along the way," she says. John Nixon couldn t be happier that he decided to spend a few hours of his Tuesday mornings with such a lively group. "I feel like a kid again," he says. "If there s anyone out there who enjoys the outdoors, please join us; we d love to have you."

Take a hike! Cedar Crest Amblers and Scramblers 2009 Schedule

The Cedar Crest Amblers and Scramblers hiking group invites you to join them. All hikes are on Tuesday mornings. A carpool leaves Cedar Crest s Village Square Clubhouse promptly at 9 a.m. and returns before noon. Hikes are cancelled in the event of heavy rain or snow. For additional information on the Amblers and Scramblers and a complete schedule of hikes, contact Bill Sperry at 973-839-0053. May 5: Mountain Side Park, Yellow Trail from I-287 to Cedar Crest May 12: Tourne County Park, Wildflower Trail May 19: Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge May 26: Mills Reservation June 2: South Mountain Reservation June 9: McFaul Environmental Center June 16: Cannonball Trail, Pompton Lakes to I-287 June 23: Speedwell Historic Village and Patriots Path June 30: Van Saun County Park

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